Best electric water heaters are quickly becoming a popular alternative from the traditional natural gas style water heater.
The electric style water heater is typically cheaper up-front, safe to run, reliable, and is far superior to gas in terms of installation and maintenance. Instead of using a pilot light or ignition burner, electric water heaters use a heating coil within the device that heats up water quickly and effectively.
With the emergence of tankless water heaters, you will now have the choice between an efficient tankless system or the traditional electric water heater that comes with a tank.
Deciding on which electric water heater is best for you can be tricky. There are hundreds of options, and each one has its features that may be great for some folks but not necessarily everyone.
We will walk you through some of our favorite electric water heaters and help you answer some of those important questions that will help you decide which electric water heater is best for you.
How Does An Electric Water Heater Work?
When deciding on the perfect electric water heater for you, it is important to understand how they work.
The beauty of the electric water heater is that they are a breeze to install, and their initial up-front cost is minimal compared to gas heaters of similar nature.
The electric water heater uses a different heating style than the gas water heater that uses a pilot light or internal ignitor combined with natural gas.
Water is heated with an internal heating element that is powered by the outlet you plug your water into.
For most residential and commercial uses, this is typically a 240-Volt plug rather than your standard 120-Volt, although there are 120-Volt water heaters available. The extra voltage is needed because to heat up the internal heating coils and heating elements, we need a ton of power.
As hot water is requested via faucet or showerhead, the electrical water heater will kick into gear, and the heating elements will heat water as it leaves the tank or as it goes through the tankless system.
There are a few differences in the way a tankless water heater works versus a traditional tank-style work, but the principle is roughly the same.
With the traditional tank water heater, there are usually two heating elements. One on the top of the water heater and the other on the bottom. One thing that is important to understand is that these two elements will NEVER run at once.
When hot water is required, the top portion of the tank will begin to heat first because that is the water that gets delivered to the rest of the home first. As the water that was in the top of the tank is expelled into your home’s water pipes, the bottom will begin to heat once that water begins to rise.
As for tankless water heaters, they typically have internal heating coils that will heat the water as it flows through the system. This leads to less wait time (virtually none) for water and no wasted water like you will have with the tank-style traditional water heaters.
Electric Tankless VS Tank-Style Electric Water Heater
Several factors come into play when deciding between the more modern tankless system or the tried and true tank-style electric water heater.
When it comes to choosing between the two, you will notice that it will largely depend on your personal situation. Things like budget, climate, water requirements, and installation capabilities will all influence the best electric water heater for you.
Tankless Electric Water Heater
Unlimited Water Supply
One of the most favorited aspects of the tankless electric water heater is that there is typically no limit to the amount of hot water at your disposal.
Traditional tanks water heaters are often judged by their first-hour rating, which refers to the amount of hot water available within the first hour. After that, the water can become cold because there is no water available in the tank.
With the tankless system, the water is heated as the water flows into the water heater. While you may have some flow rate slowdowns if you are running multiple showers or hot water appliances at once, you will still never run low on hot water.
Because most tankless water heaters are roughly the size of a small suitcase, tankless electric water heaters are some of the easiest water heaters to install.
Their lightweight and compact shape make them easily fit into tight spaces, and most come pre-configured to be mounted to the wall.
Most tankless electric water heaters can be adaptive to the size of the water line that they can accept. Many come with standard sizes, but they have adapters that can easily be switched out to work with all sizes.
Electric Tank-Style Water Heater
Cheaper Up-Front Cost
Quite frankly, tankless water heaters are expensive. They do last a long time, but many people do not want to stomach the up-front cost. Electric tank-style water heaters are the cheapest water heaters on the market for most residential usages.
They are much cheaper than gas tank water heaters up-front and have the same heating qualities in most situations. Because these do not require any venting or added components to relieve gas, the tank-style electric heater is one of the easier tasks to install and there is little to no maintenance as well.
When you think about how a tankless water heater works, you must understand that the water is heated up as it flows through it.
Therefore, the system will expend more energy and time to get the water to the set temperature, which will slow flow rates and cost more money in operational cost.
In colder climates, tankless water heaters can slow down due to the need to raise temperatures so quickly. This is one of the reasons why tank-style electric water heaters are so popular in colder climates. In these types of climates, tank-style water heaters will be more effective for better water pressure due to the cold ground temperature slowing down tankless systems.
Residential VS Commercial Electric Water Heaters
There are numerous similarities between residential and commercial grade electric water heaters. In short, they do the same thing, they are both designed to provide as much hot water as possible to all faucets in the most efficient way possible. You will usually see the same technology in both residential and commercial applications, but in commercial settings, you will see higher-powered systems, and many times, buildings will rely on multiple water heaters.
Another thing to keep in mind is the difference in warranty when comparing residential and commercial electric water heaters. Because commercial water heaters are installed to be used for thousands of gallons of water every day, they are more likely to have issues before a residential application.
The factory warranty is typically between 6-12 years for both tankless and traditional tank-style water heaters in residential areas, but it is different for commercial uses. At most, you will see a warranty of 5 years on the tank and all the components will be much less than that.
Because of the constant use, commercial warranties will always be less, so keep this in mind if you are in search of the best electric water heater for commercial use.
Best Electric Water Heater Reviews
1. Stiebel Eltron Tankless Water Heater – On-Demand Hot Water
Constructed in Germany, the Stiebel electric tankless water heater is the epitome of efficiency and fine German engineering.
It is loaded with quality components that are designed to be user-friendly and virtually indestructible. If you live in a warmer climate, the Stiebel will perform at its absolute best, and you will have the best results in this type of weather.
The digital display on this electric water heater is one of the best we have seen to this point.
Many systems have overly complicated or obnoxious displays that can be hard to read or set up. Not with the Stiebel! The simple, yet effective digital display allows you to see the exact temperature settings and check on the efficiency, and system mode with ease. One of the best parts of this electric water heater is the internal flow control.
The system will automatically adjust the water flow to ensure that no cold water is coming into your pipes, allowing you to enjoy endless hot showers.
Why We Love It
- When comparing this to a traditional tank-style electric water heater, it is 20% more energy efficient.
- The system is 100% free of lead, and this is confirmed by the Water Quality Association (WQA.)
- Because it is tankless and electric, there is no venting required, which makes installation easy.
- The amount of hot water available is truly endless; there is no maximum output like you would see with a tank-style water heater.
Keep In Mind
You will notice that in colder climates where the groundwater is colder, the flow rate will be poor.
2. American Standard CE-12-AS Electric Water Heater
If you are short on space but still desire the endless benefits of an electric water heater, the 12-Gallon American Standard may be the choice for you.
It is a small and compact unit that weighs less than 65 pounds, making it easy to install in most places. Both the drain and pressure valves are constructed entirely of brass, making them the most durable they can be. The easy flow drain valve allows you to easily remove water from the system, which will elongate the life of the tank.
Often, with more compact and travel-capable electric water heaters, you will not get added benefits like glass-lined tanks and anode rods.
Both these things help keep the water heater tank clean and free of sediment and scale buildup. This will elongate the life of your electric water, but most importantly, it will give you peace of mind that your investment is going to be effectively providing hot water for a long time.
Why We Love It
- The American Standard electric water heater is ideal for campers, RVs, and mobile homes.
- There is a 12-Gallon capacity tank that is plenty of water for 1-2 people to use daily.
- The size of the electric water heater is perfect for easy installation into abnormal situations and spaces.
- All the valves are made from brass, which we love because they are more durable and easier to use than plastic valves.
Keep In Mind
The inlet and outlet valve parts are NOT included with the initial purchase.
3. EcoSmart ECO 27 Electric Tankless Water Heater
The EcoSmart line of electric tankless water heaters is a great choice for those that have cold groundwater or need to heat a lot of water.
Many electric tankless water heaters struggle with groundwater that is less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The EcoSmart system is effective at warming water as cold as 37 degrees! This feature alone makes it a great option for those of you in cold-weather states or deal with long winters.
Another application where the EcoSmart excels in is a pool and hot-tub management.
These two things are often overlooked by many when they are determining the best water heater for them.
The EcoSmart contains self-modulating technology that adjusts how much energy it uses based on the water’s temperature when it enters the tankless electric water heater. This makes the system ultra-efficient and gives you peace of mind as a homeowner that you are not wasting water.
4. Eemax SP3512 Electric Tankless Water Heater
The Eemax electric tankless water heater is different than most of the systems we have investigated thus far.
Rather than being designed to manage an entire home’s hot water supply, this system is designed to be a single-faucet system that can be brought wherever you need hot water. Given that it runs off a 120-Volt power supply, it is easily powered by most available plugs within your home.
It is thoughtfully designed with quality components throughout, and durability will not be an issue with the components of this system.
It weighs less than 5 pounds, which is the most amazing thing about it. You can easily pack it in your car or mobile RV and bring a hot water supply with you wherever you go.
The maximum flow rate of 0.5 GPM may seem low, but it is designed for a single faucet. We have successfully been able to wash dishes, clean hands, and more with this compact electric water heater.
Why We Love It
- The installation is as simple as it can be. It only needs one cold water line attached to operate.
- Because it runs off 120-Volts rather than the typical 240, it is easier to install in more places and to be a mobile heating unit.
- It weighs less than 5 pounds, making it the most mobile option that we have investigated by far.
- The electric water heater is 99% energy-efficient and has the certifications to prove it.
Keep In Mind
The manuals and technical support are lacking when compared to other models.
5. Bosch Electric Tankless Water Heater
Bosch is one of the most trusted brands of water heaters and home appliances in the world.
They are constantly pushing the envelope and providing homeowners with reliable, safe, and affordable systems. Their electric tankless water heater is no exception.
First off, it is visually stunning, and the size of the unit is near perfect. It easily fits into any space around your home or camper. The 97% thermal efficiency rating ensures that there is minimal or no wasted energy when this system is operational.
The immediate access to hot water is one of the reasons why so many people are drawn toward the electric tankless style water heaters.
With the traditional tank-style system, there is often a 30-45 second wait for hot water to come from faucets and showerheads. With the tankless style, the water is immediately hot, and because of this, there is no wasted water.
Why We Love It
- We love the fact that you can install this system inside or outside, depending on your needs.
- The water is heated instantly, which makes for zero wasted water or waiting time for water to heat up.
- There is an embedded electronic flow sensor that allows for only hot water to be distributed.
- The size of this electric water heater is very convenient; it does not take up much space at all.
Keep In Mind
It is not suggested that this system be installed by the homeowner. This can add to the up-front cost of the unit.
6. A.O. Smith Signature 28-Gallon Element Electric Water Heater
If you are looking for a compact and reliable tank-style water heater, the A.O. Smith 28-Gallon is a great overall choice.
It runs quietly and efficiently, and the first-hour rating of 43 hours is phenomenal for a tank-style water heater of this size. The temperature and pressure relief valve is constructed of brass and work extremely well as an added safety measure to relieve pressure from the tank.
The addition of tank insulation and the included insulation blanket make this a great option for those that are in colder climates and worry about their water tanks freezing.
These insulators also help with keeping water warmer in the tank, which lessens wait time for hot water that is commonly associated with these types of electric water heaters.
It comes with a 6-year residential warranty that ensures you will have peace of mind for years to come.
Why We Love It
- A.O. Smith is one of the most reliable water heating brands on the market.
- For a 28-Gallon water heater, the 43-Gallon first-hour rating is highly impressive.
- The shape of the water tank is perfect for installing into small spaces like under cabinets or bathroom vanities.
- The inside of the tank is lined with foam insulation that keeps the water warmer for longer, even when the tank is not in use.
Keep In Mind
The drain valve is made from plastic, which we often see durability issues with.
7. Rheem Performance Platinum Electric Water Heater
The Rheem high-performance electric water heater is loaded with high-quality components and endless features that make it a popular choice among homeowners.
Installation is made extremely easy, especially when you are attempting to replace a comparably sized electric water heater. All the components are made from durable materials.
You will not find a plastic valve or drain anywhere on this water heart, which should give you peace of mind that this will be a long-lasting system.
One of our favorite aspects of the Rheem brand is its top-notch warranties that you will find across all their products. With this electric water heater, you will garner a 12-year warranty on the tank and all components, which guarantees that you will have hot water for years to come.
The safety features of this system are very user-friendly, too. The leak-detection alarm is an amazing device that easily identifies leaks and could save you thousands in the future.
Why We Love It
- The drain valve is made from 100% brass which we always prefer over plastic.
- To change the temperature, there is a digital thermostat that is easy to adjust and read.
- We were impressed with the recovery of this water tank; hot water is available extremely quickly after heavy uses.
- The anode rod does a great job of keeping hardness particles out of the water supply that can lead to sediment buildup.
Keep In Mind
The manuals and documentation are lacking important details.
How to Choose the Best Electric Water Heater (BUYING GUIDE EXTENSION)
Tank Or Tankless, Which One Should I Choose?
There are several things that you need to consider when choosing between the tank-style electric water heater and the more modern tankless system.
The two biggest factors to consider is the climate of the area you live in and your budget.
As stated, the climate of your area is a massive factor when deciding between the tankless and tank-style electric water heater.
Groundwater temperature is an important factor because this will dictate how much energy your electric water heater will need to heat water to the required temperature.
In the USA, the further north you go, the lower the average ground temperature becomes. Therefore, a tankless electric water heater will have a harder time keeping up with your hot water demand.
You will see a slowdown in your flow rates with the tankless system because it takes time to heat the water as it flows through the system and the more it needs to heat up, the less water available. If you are in warmer climates, this will not be an issue. Warmer groundwater temperatures are the best for tankless water heaters because there is less energy required to heat the water.
Budget wise, the electric tankless water heater will be the more expensive option between the tank-style and tankless options. The operating cost of a tankless water heater is far less than its counterpart but if you are looking for the cheapest up-front cost, then we may want to look in another direction.
The electric tank water heater is the cheapest whole-home water heating option on the market. The initial cost is far less than the tankless system, but it has operating costs that are higher than the electronic water heater that is a tank.
When choosing an electric water heater, the size of the tank system or the flow rate of a tankless system will be an important piece of information to consider. Depending on the number of people in your household and the amount of water used daily, you can determine the best tank capacity and tankless flow rate for you.
When it comes to tank-style water heaters, the larger the maximum capacity, the more hot water it will provide to your home, and the more first-hour water will be available.
With this style of electric water heater, you will eventually run out of available hot water, and the more you use your hot water, the quicker it will run out. Therefore, when deciding on a tank-style water heater, you will want to ensure that the capacity can handle all your needs.
Tankless electric water heaters use the maximum flow rate capacity to judge the amount of hot water it can provide rather than a tank capacity. They are measured by Gallons-Per-Minute (GPM) and the higher the GPM rating, the more hot water it can provide throughout the entire home. Bigger homes require a higher flow rate tankless system.
These features are one of the most underrated aspects of an electric water heater. The most common issue with both tankless and tank-style water heaters are leaking problems.
These can be caused by corroding components in the tank, and by having quality anti-scale features, we can avoid these things. The most common anti-scale component is an anode rod that removes water hardness particles from water that will combat limescale buildup within the tank. Another feature that you will want to look for is a glass-lined interior tank.
This will help remove sediment from the water and, most importantly, combat sediment from attaching itself to the walls of the tank.
When it comes to installation, more and more manufacturers are directing their efforts toward self-installation.
Luckily for us, electric water heaters are typically easy to install for both tank-style systems and tankless systems. Thanks to their lack of venting needs, electric water heaters require only a few things to work effectively. The inlet and outlet valves must be correctly connected, and the required power voltage must be near the installation site. These things apply to both tankless and tank-style water heaters.
Tank-style water heaters are more difficult to install than tankless water heaters. They are much larger, and on average, they take up nearly 10 square feet of space within your home.
If you decide that a tank water heater is your best choice, then do your best to find the exact size of your current water heater. If you are building a new home or adding a water heater for the first time, you will want to find a designated spot that you KNOW is large enough to fit the perfect electric water heater.
Efficiency And Costs
As we have discussed, the different types of water heaters have different costs associated with their initial cost and their long-term operating costs.
First off, you need to decide which one of these things you value more, the initial cheaper up-front cost for the tank-style system, or the smaller operating costs associated with the more efficient tankless system.
When it comes to electric water heaters, the up-front cost of a tankless system will be much more than a tank-style water heater.
The tank water heaters will be cheaper to purchase initially, but because they are less efficient, they will cost more to operate throughout their lifetime. Tankless systems are far more efficient and therefore are much cheaper to operate in the long run.
Water flow is one of the most important aspects for most homeowners to consider before choosing the perfect electric water heater. But you will need to understand the difference in water flow between the tankless water heaters and the more traditional tank-style water heaters.
When it comes to electric tankless water heaters, you will see that there are differences in the Gallons-Per-Minute (GPM) rating from unit to unit. The higher this rating, the better water flow you will have if you decide on a tankless water heater.
Not only will you have better water flow, but you will also have the best choice to handle multiple showers and faucets throughout your entire home.
Because tankless water heaters heat water as it is brought into the machine, the more power and water capacity the unit has, the faster it will heat water within the system.
If you decide that a traditional tank-style water heater is better for you, then flow rates will not be nearly as important as the water tank capacity. With this style of water heater, you will have consistent flow rates because the water is not being heated simultaneously.
These models heat water within the tank, and therefore, this water supply is already available. To ensure that you have enough hot water with a tank water heater, you need to make sure that the capacity of the tank can handle the needs of your household.
Thankfully, the electric water heater by default is much safer than the gas alternative. But there are still several things that can go wrong and having a system that can alert you of issues or safety concerns.
The most common issue with both tankless and tank-style water heaters is leaking problems. Luckily, there are numerous options available that now have leak-detection technology that will shut-off the water intake and alert the homeowner to the leaking issue. This can be done via mobile application too, which allows you to know exactly what is going on with your water heater from anywhere in the world.
Other safety issues to be aware of are quality pressure relief valves and overheating protection. We suggest that you should always do your best to find a tankless or tank electric water heater that has all-metal components.
How to install an electric water heater in your home
The electric water heater install is typically much easier than gas alternatives, which is one of the reasons why the electric style is so popular. Because there is no need to attach venting pipes to your gas water heater, all you need to do is find a spot close to your water intake pipes and a proper voltage plug near.
If you have a tank-style electric water heater, the biggest thing to remember is that you must have space for the tank to fit. If you are replacing an older tank, then you should always do your best to find an exact size match. Most tank systems have a 240-Volt plug requirement, so you also need to ensure that the proper power source is nearby. Once these things have been confirmed, you simply need to attach the water inlet and outlet pipes, and plug it in. That is, it!
When it comes to the tankless style of the electric water heater, the install is even easier. These systems are the size of a suitcase and are MUCH lighter than the other electric water heater style that comes with the tank. All you need to find is enough wall space near your water supply, and you should be able to easily install your electric tankless water heater.
Can an electric water heater explode?
Electric water heaters can explode, but it is VERY rare. The combination of a temperature setting that is too high, combined with a malfunctioning pressure relief valve can cause combustion in the tank and an explosion.
As stated, it is very rare, and you can avoid these accidents by keeping your temperature settings within the suggested range and to always ensure that the pressure relief valve is functional. We suggest bringing in professionals to go over your system once per year.
How to clean out an electric water heater?
Cleaning an electric water heater is getting much easier as this technology evolves.
You should always keep the unit free from foreign objects like dust and paint chips, but when it comes to cleaning out the inner tank of a traditional system, this is completely effortless now.
Traditional tank-style water heaters manufactured today will most likely come with a self-cleaning mode that will ensure the inside of the tank stays spotless throughout the lifetime of the appliance.
In addition to self-cleaning modes, there are numerous features available on tankless and traditional systems that will help keep it clean and free of sediment buildup and calcification.
You need to ensure that the system you choose has quality anode rods and anti-scaling features.
These are the best way to keep the water heater clean. Both tankless and tank-style water heaters now come with a prefilter that removes large sediment and contaminants from your water supply as it enters the system.
By finding units with clean water characteristics, the cleaning of the electric water heater is now removed, thanks to the features within the tank.
How to flush an electric water heater?
Flushing an electric water heater will only apply to the traditional tank-style water heaters. Tankless systems do not hold onto water, and when the request for hot water is completed, they will recycle the water throughout the system, so it does not go to waste.
With the traditional tank-style heaters, you will occasionally need to drain the tank. You can do this by simply releasing the drain valve that is usually at the bottom of the tank. We find it easiest when these valves are made from brass or stainless steel. Plastic valves tend to get stuck and can break easily, stick to brass!
Frequently Asked Question and Answered
How long does it take for an electric water heater to heat the water?
This depends on whether you want a tankless, or a traditional tank-style water heater. With the tankless system, there is virtually no waiting time because water is heated up as it flows through the system.
In-fact, it does not let the water come out that is not hot! When it comes to the tank systems, there will be some waiting time, but that will be limited to about 30 seconds.
How many amps does an electric tankless water heater use?
Tankless water heaters require a 40-50-amp breaker for each wire that connects to a heating element. At a minimum, most electric tankless water heaters have 3 elements, so there is usually a minimum requirement of 120-amps.
How to check an electric water heater?
When checking on the status of the electric water heater, you will want to verify a few things. The most important thing to remember is to check for any LED indicators that signify an error code.
Every water heater will have an error code system, and when you are maintaining your heater, you will want to ensure there are no error codes present. You will also want to ensure that there is no present water outside of the electric water heaters; this should never occur.
What temperature should your water be set on?
The Department of Energy suggests that you should set your water temperature at 120-Degrees Fahrenheit.
This is the best for energy efficiency and the costs associated with operating your electric water heater. This temperature setting will also keep you safe from scalding hot water!
Which is more cost-effective; gas or electric water heaters?
This is a two-part question that we need to separate into up-front costs and long-term operational costs. In terms of up-front costs, electric water heaters will always be cheaper than their gas alternatives.
This is due to less involved venting requirements and less overall material to run properly. When it comes to operational costs, gas water heaters are typically cheaper to operate due to natural gas is cheaper than the high-powered heating elements required by electric water heaters.
Electric water heaters are extremely popular for homeowners all around the world. They have initial costs that are much lower than gas options, and the newer, more modern tankless systems are more efficient than other options as well.
Choosing between the tankless and tank-style water heaters is going to be the first question you need to answer. Still, once you have decided, it turns into a question of your personal preferences combined with your water requirements.
When choosing the best electric water heater for you, make sure you consider our in-depth buying guide. These things will help direct you to the proper size machine and will also help you make sure that the electric water heater you decide on will have the water capacity to handle your entire household.
We are confident that by reviewing this article, you will have all the information you need to ensure that you choose the best electric hot water heater for you. We sincerely thank you for tuning into this article and we wish you all the best in determining the perfect electric water heater for you.